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The Cobalt's Taillight

Still Paying for My Road Trip

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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After I got the Cobalt SS/SC back from the dealership, I took her to get her fourth windshield replacement of the year.

It set me back another $303.

As I mentioned when I got back from my last road trip, touring (that's an old word for road tripping) sure kicks this car's ass.

Thankfully Toni was there to baby the car back to health after she (the car, not Toni) nearly coughed up a lung. The Cobalt really acted like it had a dead engine.

This is my first car with drive-by-wire technology, so I've never experienced a throttle failure before. Throttle position sensor failures, yes. Idle air bypass failures, sure. Not a complete throttle system failure. When it first happened, I had no frame of reference and it didn't even occur to me that it wasn't the end of the road for the mighty little LSJ engine.

This could have potentially been catastrophic had it occurred while out in the middle of nowhere, but my greatest concern of drive-by-wire didn't occur — that is the throttle sticking open. Off the top of my head, I know there are at least two fail-safes in place to prevent just such an occurrence, like computer signals to retract the throttle and dual throttle springs. Also, with the car having a manual transmission there's little chance she'd remain stuck in a gear and race along to our concurrent deaths. The worst that would likely happen in such an unlikely event is the engine would blow itself to kingdom come — or more likely, frustrate itself bouncing off the rev-limiter until I could get control of the car and shut it down.

I really am a bit old school — I still like my mechanical linkages and carburetors.

Don't get me wrong, I plainly see the advances that have been made and realize the level of performance we're seeing today wouldn't have been possible with '60's technology, but I still like the way a huge engine in a light chassis drives — with a carburetor.

For those of you who haven't experienced it, it's called character.

Granted big engines in light cars cause hair-raising, life-threatening experiences...but to be completely honest, that's the whole point.

Anyway, I digress.

Now that the throttle issue has been fixed, the oil changed, and the windshield replaced, I have to get the car in to the body shop to have the paint sag and quarter glass seal repaired from the bodywork.

Wish me luck.


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